I have never really been too in love with wearing popular border prints, as much as I love to drool over them in ads and on other people. To me, they're just one of those "I love it on you, but I don't really care to wear it" things, and this has lead to several purchases of prints I loved to look at, but only ever ended up wearing once. So these things were pretty much the first to go when I started my wardrobe cleanup! However, this sort of lead to a couple seasons worth of a wardrobe without a "wow" factor: full of things I can wear every day, but nothing that I felt was good enough for a special occasion, or even simply something I both loved to look at, and to wear. I finally had to come to serious terms with my wardrobe and realize that just because I liked to stare at and giggle over prints with cute unicorns on them, they could hardly be farther from my own personal style and what I find practical and comfortable in, and so I didn't exactly want to cover myself in them.
So, I started to think about what sort of "wow" pieces I actually loved and could see myself wearing. After thinking about it for a while, I realized that pretty much all of the print pieces that I really loved were pieces I had been drooling over for years. In fact, practically none of my dream pieces were recent popular border prints, but mostly all-over, or understated prints from 2007 or before! To me, these symbolize a time when I felt like the Lolita trends most intercepted with my own personal style, as well as a time when I was first seriously getting into Lolita, and therefore were sort of something like my original dream dresses.
So, with something of a dream dress checklist in hand, I started to attempt to finally accumulate pieces that I had been lusting after for half a decade or more. It's taken about a quarter of the year, but I can now honestly say I only have about 2 more dream dresses to cross off my list.
From left to right: Meta Revival Bouquet, JeJ La Robe Antique de la Poupee, BtSSB Marie Antoinette, BtSSB Stained Glass, BtSSB Border Print, and AP Secret Garden.
The above picture are the recent "wow" additions to my wardrobe, and with the exception of the beige Juliette et Justine JSK (which was just a super good deal for a gorgeous dress!) these are all pieces from series that I have been wanting for years! And the best part is they all are in a style I love to wear, and in colors that fit with my wardrobe. Is it painfully obvious that red is my new favorite wardrobe color? Even the pinks in these pieces can easily be paired with red as well.
Looking back at the post I made talking about re-doing my wardrobe, I am actually very pleased to see that in terms of Classic and Sweet Lolita, I have kept very much on track! I am only bringing in older, screen printed Sweet Lolita pieces, and the Classic Lolita pieces I am bringing in are very lush and detail oriented. Now I just seriously need to work on the Gothic Lolita part of my wardrobe! I know I talked about nixing a big chunk of the h.Naoto and going more formal with my Gothic Lolita, but, honestly, because I wear it so much, it's just really difficult to do that and have it still be practical for everyday wear. So, while I had gotten rid of some h.Naoto that I was just bored with, I've actually brought a fair amount of the brand back into my wardrobe. I seriously just can't resist! Especially when you can so easily pick up second-hand h.Naoto pieces for $20!
While I was indeed working on the more expensive part of my wardrobe with these pieces, I actually
got, what I think, are incredible deals on some of these pieces. I'm not going to go into the details of my budget, but I figured out that all of these pieces cost about 40% of retail price.
How I've learned to find bargains in LolitaNow, it's not that I don't sometimes make rash "I don't care how much it is! Just take my money!" decisions sometimes, but I at least like to pretend that when it comes to Lolita, I'm a pretty good bargain hunter.
- Shop second-hand. You're rarely going to get a better deal than buying second-hand! I am particularly fond of shopping on the EGL Comm Sales, but there are a few other places out there you can find second-hand Lolita pieces, including ordering from various second-hand Lolita shops based in Japan.
- Know what you want to buy. Having a little list of things you would like to own, or your wardrobe is missing, is essential to finding a bargain. After all, if you start picking up stuff just because it's cheap, with no real interest in wearing it, you might as well just be throwing that money away. I should know! That's how I got into the mess of having a huge wardrobe but absolutely nothing to wear!
- Know what their typical prices are. Window shop, a lot! Search around for older sales to see how much people have bought the piece you would like for. Try not to focus how much people are attempting to sell the piece for, but instead how much people are actually spending on it. Eventually you'll learn to know when a good deal comes along, and when you should just pass and wait for it to pop up again for a cheaper price.
- Haggling, trades, and payment plans. These things can be awesome for finding something for a really good price, or with an affordable payment plan, however, you really have to respect the seller's terms of sale or you might risk offending them, I cannot stress this enough. Generally, as a rule of thumb, I try not to ask if sellers are willing to lower their price or accept trades unless they specifically say that they are interested in either. I also do not ask for any sort of massive price reduction. There's no real rule about how much you should ask for a reduction if you're haggling over Lolita clothes, but it's often considered a bit rude to ask for a reduction of more than 15% to 20%, and you should always phrase it in a polite way, such as "would you consider $____" rather than something something that sounds demanding, such as saying "I'll give you $____" It usually doesn't hurt to ask if someone will accept a payment plan, but I will let them know straight away that I would like to pay on a payment plan, and for how long, because it's rude to spring it on someone after they've agreed to sell the item to you. I also try to keep payment plans as short as possible and aim for no longer than a month. I also try not to ask for both a reduction and a payment plan, especially because a seller is most likely to just pass on your offer completely and wait to see if someone is willing to pay them their asking price in one payment. It's not a good deal if someone buys it out from under you because you were being too cheap!
- Search for older sales posts. If you are looking for a good deal, your best bet would be to find it in older sales posts, generally about 5 days to a month old. Any newer than that, and people are still probably buying stuff from the post, any older than that and the seller might have just decided to keep the items. If you want to offer a lower price on an item (again, only if it is an appropriate price and the buyer is stating that they are accepting lower prices) people tend to be more willing to lower their price after their post stops catching people's attention. I know that when I sell stuff, if someone makes me an offer a week or so later, I'm always just glad to get rid of the piece by then!
- Be willing to compromise condition. You can find good deals if you're willing to compromise the condition. Many people offer huge price cuts on second-hand items because there is a snag in the lace, a few tiny spots that may or may not come out with a hand washing, is missing a detachable bow or waist ties, or has a snapped elastic. If you know how to fix these things, or don't mind the sometimes microscopic drops of mystery stain that some items are sold with, you can usually find some great deals on some pieces. Not all of these things are defects too! It's generally considered that modifying a piece will lower the value, and I actually have gotten a few great deals on skirts that I wouldn't otherwise fit, but who's waistbands had been modified to go an inch or two bigger!
- Patience, patience, patience! Sometimes it can take months for certain items to pop up again on the sales comm! While this is sort of a downer for those that really want something now, it's also something of a blessing in disguise. I find that the waiting and the hunting for a particular piece really makes me reconsider if I want it in the first place. If I'm totally over something after not being able to find it for a month, I just take it off my wish list. When you actually have to work for pieces (and I don't just mean saving up the money to buy them!) you really start to learn exactly what pieces you truly love and will appreciate owning, rather than which ones are just sort of a current obsession. There's absolutely no shame in realizing your latest oh-gosh-I'm-just-going-to-die-if-I-can't-own-this dream dress was just part of a month long obsession you had with pancakes or unicorns, or pancakes shaped like unicorns. We all go through those sorts of obsessions, especially in Lolita, when really cool things are constantly being released!